Coral reef organisms that help build homes for thousands of other species face extinction by 2100, thanks to increased CO2 levels and ocean acidification.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science have discovered that ocean acidification around naturally occurring CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea offer a glimpse of a future high-CO2 world and its impact on coral reef ecosystems, including the possible complete loss of creatures called Foraminifera, or forams.
Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing ocean acidification, leading to adverse impacts on shell-forming organisms such as sea urchins, cold water corals and plankton.
Ocean acidification, caused by increasing amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolving in the ocean, poses a serious threat to marine ecosystems.
Increasing acidity affects the ability of some planktonic organisms to form shells, and is expected to change the species composition of plankton, with flow-on effects to higher levels of the food web.